Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Driving Fast and Turning Back

The Moth is a locally-held story-telling event. A story-teller has 5 minutes to tell his or her story which must be true and told well from memory (no prompts or notes), Ten are randomly selected each night to share. I have always put my name in, no matter how unprepared I've been, but my name has never been pulled from the hat yet.

I'm not complaining. This could be a blessing. If nothing else, it's forced me to think through a few memories and put them into story form. "On Hugging" was sketched out on the theme of Feelings for The Moth but it never got on stage. This one below was sketched out for the theme of Fast Lane (which only loosely applies since the only thing fast about either story is that it involved driving above the speed limit on the highway) but I won't be able to attend to try and pitch it.


When I was five or six, the teenaged daughter of a family friend gave me a stuffed bear. It wasn’t particularly cute and it was funny looking. I didn’t love it at first but it looked sad and like it needed a friend so I became attached to it over time and it became my favorite stuffed toy throughout childhood.

When I was seven or eight, my family and I were driving late at night from Phoenix to Los Angeles when I looked for my bear to fall asleep. It wasn’t there. I leaned into the front cabin of my dad’s Lincoln Continental and told them it was missing. We pulled over and searched the car but couldn’t find it. We were almost to Quartzsite, almost 140 miles away from our home. With my mom’s encouragement, my dad turned the car around and we drove home to get the bear so I would have it for our weekend away. I don’t remember saying thank you or even being particularly appreciative but every once in a while over the last 30 years I’ve remembered it as a moment my parents taking a simple but time-consuming action to make their daughter’s life happier.
Today it was cloudy but otherwise fair weather on a normal day. My younger son didn’t want to wake up and get dressed, both children wanted to play video games before they left for camp, they argued about brushing their teeth and, when they finally did, it was so poorly done I made them re-brush. Meanwhile minutes passed and we were running late. In the course of all the quarreling, my older son’s camp counselor called to tell me they were getting in the van for Seaside where they’d spend the day surfing, playing at the arcade, and walking along the beach. I missed the call while I was trying to get us out of the house.
We got to camp 15 minutes late and the vans and counselors were already gone. I spent the next 20 minutes frantically trying to reach their cell phones which they’d turned off because they were being safe drivers. I tried to reach the activities manager who was watching another camp of 20 children, all under 10. Meanwhile, I had a younger child I had to get to his own camp, plus my own work day filled with meetings, reports and presentations due, allergy shots, a piano lesson, and a training run this evening with a friend, plus my own chores. The day was packed and I had no margin for error if I was going to make any of it.
I told my older son he missed his camp and he’d have to spend the day at home. His face crumpled and he cried. That was when the camp counselor called and said they were already 60 miles ahead of me, but they would pull over and stop at a McDonald’s off the highway if I could bring my son there to meet them.
What a happy kid looks like when he gets
to his bus to go to the coast for the day
I looked at my calendar and the many commitments in store. I looked at my younger son in the car with me who, if I didn’t get him to camp, would ensure my day was thoroughly unproductive. And then I looked at my older son who just wanted to spend the day with his buddies. I remembered my parents who drove 280 miles out of their way to get me a stuffed bear.
And I knew there was no choice.

No comments: